To boldly go where no one has gone before. That should be the motto of any documentary. And as the 50 years of the ‘birth’ of Star Trek approached, Adam Nimoy decided that it was time to make a documentary about Spock, a defining character in the series that happened to have been played and popularized by his father, Leonard. But when Leonard suddenly crossed the Final Frontier in February 2015, For the Love of Spock went from being a project about a fictional character to a love and reconciliation letter from a son to his father.
Going from Leonard’s beginnings and early acting career (truly disturbing to see clips of his old, pre-Trek films) to attracting the attention of a certain Gene Roddenberry (‘He’d make a good alien’) and securing a long stint on what is described as a “treadmill to oblivion” sci-fi series, passing through his musical career (Bilbo! Bilbo Baggins!) personal style (yes, really) divorce, alcoholism and “rebirth” as a beloved character, Adam interviews family, friends, fellow actors and Trekkies, in a eulogy to a man who professed himself a workaholic and renaissance man. We dare you not to feel the ocular humidity during the intensely cathartic (and somewhat fire damaged) ending.
And yet. And yet. For the Love of Spock does maintain some of its original goal, by guiding non-Trekkies through the origins of the Vulcan nerve pinch, greeting and ears. It also tries to go further by showing how Spock stands for the alien in a foreign culture, a theme more timely than ever, and how he inspired people to be scientists. Heck, there’s even a reference to the Spock & Kirk homoerotic montages online! But as far as the direct impact of Spock – or Star Trek – in popular culture, there isn’t much apart from a few quick generic shots of toys and conventions. Even if we consider this film as a more personal, biographical portrait of Leonard Nimoy the Person, there are still massive gaps, such as his complicated relationship with his Trek alter ego (he did write a book called “I am not Spock”) and the legendary fractious disagreements with costar William Shatner.
But if we forget – and forgive – its shortcomings, and embrace it for what it is (a partial, loving, homage film to a great yet imperfect man) For the Love of Spock is definitely worth the voyage, not only for the die-hard Trekkie, but also to anyone that has any curiosity about pop culture phenomenons in general. It may not be Listen To Me Marlon, but it’s no Vulcan pinch either.
For the Love of Spock is available to see online at https://www.wearecolony.com/for-the-love-of-spock/